If you're an iPhone user, you probably got a little treat yesterday via SMS: You now have "free AT&T Wi-Fi access at thousands of hotspots nationwide, including Starbucks." Now the carrier announces that it will spread the goodies around, giving BlackBerry users the same free access soon.
Customers packing the Blackberry Bold, which launches Tuesday, November 4, will be able to connect to AT&T's network of more than 15,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in airports and Barnes and Noble stores, as well as Starbucks locations. The company also plans to include the Blackberry Pearl 8120 and the 8820 before the end of the year.
But users will quickly discover that it's not quite as easy as walking in, smelling the caffeinated air and hopping on the network. Obviously, the Wi-Fi card needs to be turned on and set to join the network. That's when a bit of wackiness ensues. There's the prompt to fill in the mobile phone number, acceptance of the terms and the wait for a free text message that provides the link for free access. Once you do all of that, then you have can browse to your heart's content, but only for 24 hours and only at that location. This means, if you connect at Starbucks and try to hop on again at Barnes and Noble, you'll have to start over again.
On the hassleness scale, it hits at about a 6.5: Not straightforward or fun, but not too awful if you're in a pinch and absolutely HAVE to have access.